Did you know that allergies can affect your eyes as well? Most of us are always quick to seek medical attention for allergy symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, or even swelling. But, allergies can affect your eyes, too.
Also referred to as ocular allergies or allergic conjunctivitis, eye allergies pose very little threat to your Also referred to as ocular allergies or allergic conjunctivitis, eye allergies pose very little threat to your eyesight other than temporary blurriness. The conjunctiva refers to an intricate thinned layer lining found in the eye and internal eyelid.
Eye allergies occur when your immune system wrongly identifies a harmless substance as a potential allergen. Your immune system then reacts aggressively to produce antibodies known as Immunoglobulin E (IgE) to fight off the allergen. These antibodies trigger a myriad of events that result in the release of small chemicals, mainly mast cells and histamines, subsequently leading to an allergic reaction.
What are the Symptoms of Eye Allergy?
When you are attacked by an eye allergy, you will likely experience the below symptoms:
- Red eyes
- Watery, itchy eyes
- Your eyes may become highly sensitive to light
- The grittiness of eyes
- Eyelid puffiness and swelling
These symptoms may also be accompanied by nasal symptoms such as allergic rhinitis. You will experience these symptoms shortly after your exposure to the allergen. Thankfully, these symptoms are not contagious neither are they life-threatening.
What Are the Primary Causes of Eye Allergies?
There are many potential causative agents of eye allergy including:
Indoor Allergens: Eye allergy symptoms are known to worsen during spring or pet grooming. In this regard, pet dander and dust mites are common culprits.
Outdoor Allergens: Eye allergy symptoms may also worsen during outdoor activities or on a high pollen count day. Mold spores, as well as seasonal allergens such as pollen, are typical outdoor allergen examples.
What are the Treatment Options for Eye Allergy?
If you have eye allergy symptoms, you should speak to your doctor about it, and assess your symptoms to determine whether they are related to eye allergy or not. The symptoms can also be caused by infections or other serious eye conditions.
You will also need to try and avoid potential allergens as much as possible. Other than that, the available eye allergy treatment options include:
Antihistamines: As the name indicates, these medications act on histamine to help soothe and reduce severity of your symptoms. Common oral antihistamines include loratadine, fexofenadine, and cetirizine. You also have the option to use an eye drop version of antihistamine. However, the oral version works much better perhaps because it alleviates nasal symptoms that equally form part of your allergy symptoms.
Corticosteroids: Though on rare occasions, steroid medications can be prescribed by doctors to help minimize both the swelling and inflammation caused by eye allergies. These steroids are available in either eye drops or oral tablets. Generally, corticosteroids are reasonably effective. However, they may have long-term complications that will need to be taken into account before you can use them.
What Are the Side Effects of Antihistamines?
One notable side effect of antihistamines is drowsiness. However, the latest generation of this medication does not cause a lot of drowsiness. If you are an operator of heavy machines or equipment, drive or work as an aviation pilot, you are highly advised to take some time off until the effects of this medication have declined.
Is It Possible to Avoid Eye Allergies?
Below are some practical tips on how to avoid indoor and outdoor eye allergens:
- Regularly change your bedding
- Only purchase allergen-proof bed covers
- Always sunbathe your soft toys, cushion as well as pillows
- Consider buying washable plush toys
- Regularly vacuum with HEPA filter to minimize dust accumulation in your home
- If possible, keep the pets out of your house
Effective tips on how to avoid outdoor seasonal allergens include:
- Use saline eye drops to ward off allergens when you are outdoor.
- You can consider putting on a wide-brimmed hat to reduce allergen chances of blowing into your eye.
- Consider using sunglasses to cleanse away allergens when outdoor.
General tips for managing eye allergy include:
- Use a clean handkerchief or eye pad to gently compress your eyes.
- Avoid rubbing your eyes regularly.
- Avoid wearing contact lenses until symptoms resolved for 24 hours.
The best way to treat and manage your eye allergy symptoms is to seek immediate medical attention. Discuss your symptoms with a healthcare professional here .
Allergens To Test For
- Guinea Pig
- Honey Bee Venom
- When vacuuming, use a micro-filtered bagged vacuum as this helps to prevent allergens from leaking back into the air.